It’s a story unlike any other. It shows a lifestyle unlike any other. And even more fascinating, it shows a side of America unlike any other you have ever seen before.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” follows a spunky and determined 6 year old girl named Hushpuppy as she gets schooled in the ways of survival in the unforgiving Louisiana delta. Her father, Wink, serves as part time parental figure/harsh educator as they eek out a living ‘the bathtub’, a swampy area on the wrong side of the levee.
What we see is truly a wild side of life with a small, tight knit group of hard drinking, good time loving people. At first I was taken aback by the harsh reality and filthy, chaotic conditions of Hushpuppy’s world. This gave way to equal parts awe and envy of the casual and seemingly stress free lifestyle. Who was I to judge this crazy community when they were so happy and self sufficient?
When a powerful storm floods the tub, even the most intrepid survivor knows it’s time to leave for dryer ground. But not Wink. He holds out with a handful of other die-hards and even does his best to defy the feds when they come to relocate the rag tag bunch. Suddenly all of his tough love life lessons come into sharp focus for Hushpuppy. For the rest of us, the movie turns into a surreal experiment in a mashup of reality and a child’s wild imagination.
Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy and Dwight Henry as Wink, give performances that are as raw and real as they get. They are as fresh to movie making as their Director/Co-writer Benh Zeitlin. Maybe it is their inexperience that kept everyone from falling into some Hollywood movie artifice. All I know is that the fantasy element of the storytelling was the only thing that kept reminding me this was a movie. Because try as I might, I couldn’t imagine a director yelling cut after a scene or a make-up artist applying fresh wounds or mud on a face. It felt more like a documentary than a movie with a script and actors.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” is going to be one of those strange, little movies that will find an audience solely by word of mouth. Anyone who sees it will not be able to shake the haunting imagery or unaffected, gripping performances. So they will talk and encourage others to take the dip in the bathtub. Let me be the first to do just that and encourage you, most whole-heartedly to see the best performances and most original storytelling of the year. Go see “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” wades through 4 Red Vines for being a real original
A preview of this movie was provided by the studio but in no way affects this review.